Don’t suffer the ugly anymore. Here’s how to give your garden a fall makeover.
Your poor, sad garden. The spent vines, stubborn weeds, and greens gone to seed are putting a pitiful spin on your backyard retreat.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some simple tips to tidy up your garden and yard, which will also help prep them for next year.
Bury the Dead
Nothing looks sadder than leggy tomato vines, yellow zucchini leaves, and dried-up perennials that long ago displayed their last bloom. So pull and prune the dead or dying plants in your garden.
Bury spent plants in your compost pile; double-bag diseased and infested plants and place in the trash. (Empty mulch bags are great final resting places for these plants, so be sure to stockpile them in spring.)
If your tomato vines are still bearing fruit, keep staking and pruning them until the first hard frost, when they’ll likely die. And give the birds a break and leave some seed-bearing but spent blooms for them. They love sunflowers, cone flowers, berries, and black-eyed Susans.
This is the last time this season to pull weeds. Pluck them before they flower and send seeds throughout your garden that will rest in winter and sprout in spring.
If you have a mulcher, chop the weeds and throw them on your compost pile. If you want to be extra sure that weed seeds are dead, bag weeds in black plastic and place in a sunny place for a couple of months. The heat will kill the seeds. Then throw the cooked weeds on your compost pile.
One way to cut garden expenses is to harvest and store seeds. One large sunflower, for instance, can provide seeds for hundreds of plants next spring. Here are some seed guidelines.
- Harvest seeds from heirloom vegetables and standard plants.
- Disease can spread through seeds, so only harvest seeds from your healthiest plants.
- Don’t harvest seeds from hybrid plants, which often are sterile or will look nothing like the parent plant.
- Only harvest mature seeds from dry and faded blooms and pods. Mature seeds are often cream colored or brown.
- After seeds are dry, store them in envelopes or glass jars in a cool, dry place.
Stack and cover metal tomato cages. Bundle wooden or bamboo stakes, and store in a dry place so they don’t rot over winter. And retrieve panty-hose vine ties that you can re-use next spring.
Instead of throwing out broken cages and stakes, repurpose them. Snip off remaining cage legs to use for pepper supports. Broken tomato steaks will support smaller plants if you whittle one end into a point, so it easily slips into the ground.
Autumn is the time to visualize your spring garden and plant accordingly. Here are our outdoor “to-dos” that reap the fruits of fall, plan for spring and keep your autumn garden aglow.
Flash some color.
Replace spent annuals with fall-blooming hardy mums; these showy perennials will provide color for many weeks. Properly planted, maintained and winterized, mums will colorfully enhance your landscape for years to come.
Check out Dutch treats.
Fall is “now or never” time to plant spring bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and other fall bulbs will arrive soon from Holland. Shop early for the best selection. Then dream up a new color scheme or enhance the old.
Give a tree a chance.
Fall is the best season to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and figs. Young trees should be staked to prevent roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds.
Protect the weak.
As perennials fade away, mark their locations with small sticks. Some might not be apparent after the winter and could be disturbed by spring cultivating. If you haven’t brought in your house plants yet, do so before you heat your home to give them time to adjust. A thorough washing first helps get rid of pests.
Cook up a garden.
Some veggies can be sown in fall to overwinter, resulting in earlier crops the following year: peas, fava beans, hardy spinach, spring cabbage, Calabrese, leaf beets, or Swiss chard. Spring onions can be sown in late summer and early fall for overwintering. Sow hardy lettuce in a cold greenhouse.
Herbs on the go.
Dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley and chives to grow them inside as house plants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely. For herbs that have grown vigorously through the summer, cut them back about halfway and then dry or freeze the extra harvest or share it with friends. Herb crafts such as lavender soap and sachets are great as gifts.
Tomatoes in reverse.
If unripe tomatoes are still hanging on the vine and frost is fast approaching, pull the vines out by the roots and hang them upside down in a cool, dark place to finish ripening.
Transplant rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries well before the first light frosts so they can develop roots. Rhubarb and strawberries can quickly deplete the soil of nutrients, so find new locations for them every three or four years.
Harvest those apples now for a delicious cider brew. You can use blemished apples, but avoid adding too many with open wounds or bruises. If rot has already set in, it could affect the taste and longevity of the cider.
Sunflower seeds are best dried on the plants. The seeds will be difficult to remove if you harvest the plants before they die naturally. If birds are a problem, cover the heads with cheesecloth for protection.
Seed grass now.
Fall is the best time to seed new grass. Warm days and cool nights supported by regular rainfall or irrigation make for ideal growing conditions. Spruce up spotty patches or plant a full lawn.
Raking it over.
Know which leaves to rake and which to “leave” behind. Must-rake: leaves on sidewalks (too slippery); perennial beds (cause crown rot); and lawns (attract fungi insects). Leave-behind: leaves under trees and shrubs, and on sturdy ground covers (over time they self-destruct into needed compost). Invest in a clog-free rake with a wave-shaped tooth design to keep leaves from sticking. Use an electric blower only when it is absolutely necessary, such as on the roof. And protect your back from strain while raking by moving your feet rather than bending over continuously from one spot.
Hire a landscape designer this fall! Scheduling is less chaotic than in spring, and designers have more time to answer questions and develop smaller projects. Start early to avoid missing the planting season, because considerable lead time is necessary (visiting the site, drawing up plans, making estimates, etc.).
(From the National Association of Realtors Weekly Report)
Excited about designing your first flower garden? Calm down before you make these 5 rookie mistakes:
Mistake 1: Disregarding the sun
Do you know how many hours of full sun your garden gets each day in each season?
If you can delay gratification, study your yard over a year before designing a garden. See how long the sun shines in the fall, spring, and summer. Read planting labels to determine how much sun a particular plant needs.
Sun-loving plants, such as roses, need at least 6 hours of sun a day; partial sun/shade plants need 4 to 6 hours; and shade plants need little or dappled sunlight: more sun can burn their leaves.
Mistake 2: Failing to consider color
It doesn’t matter what color story you tell, just make sure you know the story before you plant. Here are some ideas:
Pull out your color wheel and find plants with complementary colors, such as yellow coreopsis with violet salvia.
Monochromatic gardens are stunners. Dot your one-color story with whites (daisies) and greens (hostas), considered neutrals in the garden world.
If you want to attract birds, add plants with vivid colors. Hummingbirds like reds, and goldfinches fly to yellows.
Pick blooms that contrast with the exterior paint color of your house, so plants will stand out and add to your curb appeal.
Mistake 3: Over-planting
When it comes to perennials, remember this rule: First year they sleep; second year they creep; third year they leap. Be sure to leave 2-3 feet between plants, giving them room to breathe and space to grow.
Mistake 4: Favoring lines over bunches
Tulips look like lonely soldiers when planted in lines. Instead, arrange bulbs and plants in more natural-looking, odd-numbered clusters of 3, 5, 7, and so on.
Mistake 5: Forgetting that size matters
Check labels for mature plant heights. Tallest go in back; medium in the middle; shortest in front. And don’t forget to install a focal point, like an ornamental tree or fountain.
Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS extends an invitation to all to join us at this weekend festivities. On Saturday, May 2nd, we’ll be hosting a booth at this year’s Mount Airy Day located on the historic grounds of the Cliveden House at Germantown Avenue and Johnson Street. On Sunday we’re hosting a booth at Chestnut Hill’s Garden Festival at Germantown Avenue and Hartwell Lane. We will have giveaways and free raffles to be drawn for fantastic prizes. Our agents will be on hand to talk about the current real estate market and answer any questions you may have regarding buying or selling a home. We will also have available information on the first time homebuyer tax credit, a menu of this week’s featured open houses along with information on our current homes for sale. Look forward to seeing you all there!
Posted by Paul Walsh
Originally from Nesquehoning, PA, Ann Marie fell in love with Philadelphia as a Penn student and has lived here ever since. Currently a Bella Vista resident, she has lived all over the city – finding a special magic in each neighborhood that has fueled her 25+ years of real estate experience. Much of Ann Marie’s success as a realtor stems from her dedication, attention to detail, and hands-on approach. She strives to make every transaction as smooth and seamless as possible for her clients, many of whom have been referred from other long-standing clients, both investors and homeowners.
Ann Marie likes to start every morning with Tai Chi and a Wawa coffee – preferably in one of Philly’s beautiful parks. Her favorite pastimes include spending time with her family, discovering new restaurants, gardening, and traveling. She is also an avid supporter of the arts, public education, and animal rescue in Philadelphia.
As a REALTOR ®, I help find more than sticks and bricks. My goal is to find you a community. I’m a rooted resident of West Philly, where I have lived most of my life. Philadelphia is made of countless rich and diverse layers. I take pride in calling it home and understanding all the beautiful nuance.
The common thread throughout my variety of experience has been about prioritizing people. Before becoming a real estate agent, I worked as a tattoo artist, bartender, yoga instructor, horseback tour guide and even a brief stint as a telephone psychic. While each of these helped prepare me to work as a REALTOR ®, direct activism with mental health support groups set me up with skills to de-stress situations, clearly communicate, listen properly and negotiate for my clients.
When I am not showing homes or stalking listings, I enjoy spending time in Cobbs Creek park with my two children and dog, Polkadot. You may see us biking to our favorite restaurant, Little Delicious, which serves the best Jamaican food in West Philly. I’m an avid gardener, so feel free to ask me questions about what to grow in your outdoor space.
I also love to travel! The most awe-inspiring experience I’ve had is visiting Bahia Bioluminiscente (or Mosquito Bay) in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The bay is a habitat for bioluminescent phytoplankton that glow and there isn’t any light pollution, so you can see every star in the dark sky. It is like swimming at midnight in a deep blue snow globe filled with silver sparkles!
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I grew up in Media, Delaware County and have lived in Philadelphia for 15 years, currently residing in Queen Village. After getting my degree in Spanish I began my career as a Spanish Interpreter in the Medical field for both Temple University and Einstein Medical Center. Being able to help people in need to communicate their problems was an honor for me and I truly valued my time there and translate that level care in my communication, sensitivity, and empathy into my current style as a PHG agent.
My father is a painting contractor and my sister is also a REALTOR®, so real estate runs in my family. I have childhood memories of seeing the impact home improvement can have, and how people’s space affects their lives. In addition to gravitating genetically to real estate, my intimate knowledge of Philadelphia, along with my people skills, make me the type of agent who can cares for and represents a variety of niche interests to the fullest, including first time home buyers, Center City and Delaware County home buyers, and Spanish speaking clients.
When I am not walking my dog Vita Marie around Mario Lanzo park in Queen Village I can be found drinking coffee at Rally, brunching at Fitzwater Cafe, eating dinner at Hungry Pigeon or grabbing a quick treat at Federal Doughnuts.
My favorite casual summer activity includes visiting John’s Water Ice and walking around Queen Village to purely enjoy the neighborhood. In my spare time, I like traveling to Spain, Puerto Rico, and my husband’s native India. My hobbies include any form of gardening, I love planting my window boxes and terrariums. I also like running and visiting all of the quirky stores around Passyunk Square.
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I am originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia where I lived with my mom and three siblings. We moved a lot, but instead of dreading it I looked forward to the adventure of a new house. My favorite thing to do was to go with my mom to look at the house options for our next move. I loved to see the layouts and styles of each house, design my new room, and get to know the local community. This is where I think my love for real estate and community started. Jump to 2012 when I moved to Philadelphia to pursue my masters in music education, and fell in love with the city. Walking around and taking in all of the different styles of architecture and history of the buildings has always been a favorite past time. I stayed in Philadelphia after school and taught music for five years until I decided to take my love for houses and community and make a career out of it.
I now live in Mt. Airy with my boyfriend Michael, cat Parma, and dog Brooklyn. I am passionate about this community and am hoping to use real estate as a vessel to continue to build and connect the people living here. You can find me out at various community gardens or playing open mics in the area! My experience as a teacher has laid a perfect foundation for a career in real estate; I am organized, communicative, caring, and understand that every client is unique and needs unique attention. If you want someone who will be there for you every step of the way for the roller coaster that real estate can be, I’m the agent for you!
I’m Allison, a Philadelphian, born and raised. As a child, I moved all around the area, living in East Mount Airy, the Northeast, Bensalem and then the Main Line. I spent summers down the shore in Ventnor, Atlantic City, and Ocean City. I currently live with my husband (Philly Home Guy, Christian) in our South Philly row home with our six-year-old son, Oliver and 5, yes I said 5, cats. We love our neighborhood, Passyunk Square, and might be bold enough to claim it’s the best ‘hood in the city! Raising my son in Philadelphia, in a neighborhood I love is an enriching experience for my family of 3.
In my free time, I help run the CityKids Consignment Sale, a non-profit kids consignment sale run 2x per year in South Philly. As a parent, you buy so much stuff! Why not recycle it back into the community and make a little cash a the same time. The sale benefits Lilypad, a parenting/event space in South Philly. I also tend to my garden at Capitolo Community Garden, I’m involved in the HSA at Andrew Jackson Elementary where my son attends school.
Prior to joining the PHG team, I worked for many years as a digital project/product manager at many mighty Philadelphia-based companies. I like to say that my love of music and my obsession with the early days of MTV lead me on my career path as I went from working in record stores to CDNOW.com, the first online music store. We sold music online when Amazon only sold books! From there I made my way to Comcast, Urban Outfitters and then to well-known digital agencies Razorfish, Happy Cog and Think Company.
I brought my experience as a client facing project manager into my career as Realtor. I’m excited to forge new relationships and help my clients buy, sell and rent their homes.
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I’ve lived in South Philly for 15 years and I can’t believe how much it has changed! Prior to becoming the first Philly Home Guy, I worked as a Newspaper Reporter, Penn researcher for Veterans who suffer from sleep disorders caused by PTSD, as well as an oyster shucker in Seattle. Shortly after, I tried managing my own rental and made a million mistakes. Even through a tough learning curve, my love for looking at properties in Philadelphia kept growing and in 2012 I started South Philly Rental Management LLC. As a real estate agent, I genuinely want to help buyers find their dream house and eventually their dream investment property. I have a special soft spot for older homes and hope to join home buyers on their journey to find the perfect place to live.
I love the secret little places in each Philly neighborhood; like the BioPond in West Philly, the Barbacoa in South Philly and sledding the bowl in Clark Park. In my spare time I enjoy coaching my 6-year-old’s soccer team, gardening in Capitolo Park and shopping for ripe avocados in the Italian Market vender stalls.
Visit The Philly Home Girls’ Website Here